Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle futures fell 2.5 per cent on Thursday, following broad declines in grain and livestock markets that analysts attributed to fund-driven long liquidation and technical selling after recent highs.
“It seems it was a risk-off day all across the board… It was more of a technical move and just money flow, taking some risk off the table,” said Altin Kalo, economist at Steiner Consulting Group.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange June live cattle futures settled down three cents at 115.6 cents/lb. while August ended down 2.925 cents at 119.4 cents (all figures US$).
Firm wholesale beef prices underpinned the market. Choice cuts were up $1.70 on Thursday to $316.78 per hundredweight (cwt), the highest in nearly a year, while select cuts fell $1.25, to $295.91/cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We are two weeks before Memorial Day, and beef in the market is extremely tight. Some of these price levels are not sustainable in the long term. But in the short term, (retailers) cannot afford to go without, going into the biggest beef consumption holiday of the year,” Kalo said.
CME feeder cattle futures closed modestly lower, with losses limited by a plunge in Chicago Board of Trade corn futures that tempered worries about the cost of feed. August feeders settled down 0.025 cent at 150.5 cents/lb.
CME lean hog futures fell on technical selling and lacklustre weekly pork export sales. USDA reported U.S. pork sales in the week to May 6 at 14,745 tonnes, a three-week low. China booked 3,048 tonnes and shipped 12,344 tonnes.
CME June hog futures settled down 1.925 cents at 110.1 cents/lb.
— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.